By Ryan Divish The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Stephen Pryor was in the Mariners clubhouse on Wednesday sporting a sling that was supporting his injured right arm. It was a bit surprising considering he didn’t have a sling on the day before.
Did the tear in his right latissmus dorsi get worse?
“Oh no, this is just so I can rest it,” he said. “I already hate it.”
Pryor has prepared himself for what could be a longer than wanted stint on the disbled list.
A lat tear is not something that you can just come back from quickly. He won’t even allow himself to think about it.
“I just want to focus on the healing aspect of it,” he said. “After I get that part taken care of, I will set up some goals.”
The idea of being on the disabled list is never fun for any player. But for Pryor, it was even more irritating considering how well he was pitching.
“That’s probably the best I’ve ever pitched in my life,” he said. “It is frustrating, but I know I will come back.”
Until Pryor comes back, the roles in the bullpen are a little unsettled. Mariners manager Eric Wedge is trying to figure it out as he goes.
He can’t just tell pitchers which roles he wants them in.
“You can’t do it that way, if you had more veteran guys, you could do it that way,” he said. “But with the younger guys up here, it’s more difficult, you have to watch them pitch a little bit and see them in different situations and see how they react.”
Pryor had been the eighth inning set-up man to closer Tom Wilhelmsen. Fellow right-hander Carter Capps will move into that spot.
“He’s the one guy that’s pitched back there consistently,” Wedge said.
Veteran lefty Oliver Perez could be used in the seventh inning of games in high leverage situations. Perez has shown the ability to not just be a left-on-left specialist.
“I feel really good with how he’s throwing the ball,” Wedge said. “He completes equally against right-handers and left-handers.”
Wedge didn’t go to Capps and Perez late in Monday’s game against the Tigers because they Mariners weren’t leading.
“The fact of the matter, when we are down, you don’t want to use Capps and you want to stay away from Perez,” he said.
Mix and match catchers
Jesus Montero was back in the starting lineup on Wednesday after sitting out four of the past six games.
He wasn’t hurt. He wasn’t working on anything in particular. This is the new direction Wedge has decided to take with his catchers. Both Montero and Kelly Shoppach will play. There is no starter and no backup. Wedge will use them both.
“We are going to mix and match with that for a while, hopefully keep Shop going and also get Montero going,” he said.
Coming into the season, Montero was slotted as the starter with Shoppach as his back-up. But Montero has struggled both at the plate and behind it. He’s hitting .211 (8-for-38) with five strikeouts and a .211 on-base percentage.
Meanwhile, Shoppach has been solid. He’s hitting .389 (7-for-18) with a homer and two RBI. He’s also been good behind the plate, working well with veterans Joe Saunders and Aaron Harang.
Wedge understands it’s a change in philosophy. And it can always change again.
“We pushed him a little early on, and we are backing off a little bit now, let’s see where it goes,” Wedge said.
A year ago when Wedge wanted to give Montero time off from catching, he was able to get him at-bats as the designated hitter. But that seems unlikely with Kendrys Morales getting the bulk of the at-bats there.
“We are a better club, we have better weapons now, those DH at-bats just aren’t there,” Wedge said.